Family Farce: Teen Wisdom| March 8, 2022
Here, we reach out to teens for answers to some of our most pressing parenting issues
My daughter tells me she can’t face her friends ever again if she wears winter clothing on Pesach, even though the forecast shows it’ll be 30 degrees. This is not even about the three new outfits and her entire summer weekday wardrobe that she won’t be able to take to camp. Let’s just be practical and make a pact not to freeze.
Look, your daughter is one of my best friends: even I’m sick of that brown outfit. Styles change and you need to think about your daughter’s self-esteem. Don’t you want her to be popular? (I would still be nice to her, but I’m just saying.) Think of the trauma she’ll endure! Think of your grandchildren!
Besides, don’t you know what it says in Pirkei Avos? “Al tifrosh min hatzibbur.” If the rest of the world freezes on Pesach, then I’m sorry, but there is no way to say this nicely: It’s your responsibility to buy whatever everyone else does, no matter the cost.
S. Baum, 15
I’m a hardworking woman who’s out of the house from nine to four daily. Unfortunately, we can’t afford a ton of cleaning help, especially at post-Covid prices. I think it’s reasonable to request that my teenage daughter clean her room for Pesach on the Sunday after Purim, but she’s giving me such a hard time about it. Can you help me? (As an aside, I’m looking for good, reliable help at a decent rate. If you hear of anything...)
It sounds like you don’t have reliable help so you’re asking your teens to clean for you. Your daughter is, understandably, upset about this. You’re only young once, you know, and pretty soon, she’ll have babies of her own that she’ll thrust on you bedikas chometz night, while she and her husband take a much needed vacation. So it’s only right that you allow her to sleep late and don’t ask her to clean her own room.
And hello? Don’t you know that making your kids help is basically asking for them to need therapy when they get older? You work them too hard, they get resentful — it becomes a vicious cycle. Do you want that? I think $30 an hour for a cleaning lady is cheaper, but whatever, it’s your life. Just don’t come crying to me in 10 years.
Atara Stern, 17
We don’t do themes for Purim and my kids want to hide under their costumes. What advice could you give me from the other side of the sewing machine?
OMG, that is legit awks. You don’t do themes? Like, seriously? Are you yotzei the mitzvah? Whatevs, I mean, it’s obvs that you’re not.
Chani Klein, 14
I think a 10:30 bedtime for my 14-year-old is reasonable, but it’s not like anyone goes to bed. I do stick to the no-phones-after-10:30 rule, but judging by the number of kids who call after that, it seems I’m the only mother in the world with this rule. Can you weigh in?
You sound like a wonderful mother, trying to balance running your household with managing your teens’ needs, including socializing. Kol hakavod.
Studies have shown that a teen’s circadian rhythm operates differently than the rest of the world. Setting your teen a 10:30 bedtime is unrealistic and setting yourself up for failure. I would advise against that. Let your teens go to bed when their bodies tell them it’s time, and focus your efforts on petitioning schools to start the school day later.
Re the no-phones rule: Studies have shown that adolescence is a crucial time for discovering who you are as a person. Teens are going through a period of finding themselves, and they increasingly look for peer approval, often to the exclusion of parental approval (although parents shouldn’t be disheartened as most children will still come back to their parents as a model). As a parent, it’s your job to hold their hands and offer your support.
Your best bet would be to give your kids their own phones, which they can use in their beds. This offers a win-win situation: You can put your house to sleep at a reasonable hour, and take care of the things that need to be done away from the prying eyes of your teens, and your kids are able to get the peer approval they need for their social/emotional development.
(Excerpted from psychology paper on the “Social/Emotional Growth of Orthodox Jewish Teens in America”)
Tova Jacobson, 19
Parenting coach (currently finishing up my degree from Sara Schenirer)
Everyone in my daughter’s class gets pizza delivered every single day. Fine, not everyone — some girls’ mothers pick them up and take them out or deliver iced coffees. I don’t want my daughter to feel left out, or to staaaaaaaarve, but I can’t really afford to do this. I suggested she spend her own money, but that did not go over well. Do you have any suggestions?
Basically, I don’t see the question here. I mean, if everyone else is doing it, what choice do you have? Are you looking to deprive her? Do you want to prove that you don’t care about her?? And she will starve. You know you never have good snacks in the house, and no, apples do not qualify.
Picture this: Chana runs down during lunch to get a fresh, hot, cheesy pizza with all the toppings. Malka’s mother knocks on the door during math class to drop off an iced coffee because she knows how overwhelmed her daughter is. Leeba gets picked up for a lunch date with her mom, just for fun. Racheli’s mother drops off a prepared salad on her way home from running errands (her sister’s wedding is in a week). Only your daughter sits there, hungry and forlorn, eyeing her friends’ delicacies.
Do you like this scene? I didn’t think so. But when you don’t drop everything to deliver hot lunch precisely at 12:30 every day, this is what your daughter goes through. I speak from experience.
Sarala L., 13
N. Miami Beach
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 784)
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